A READING FROM THE SCM OATH – The review posts and my spoilers begin…
This week in Game of Thrones, the lights were on but no one was home. Only a handful of characters are still in their homes and none of them really seem to feel welcome there anymore. Last week, I suggested that maybe the series needed to leap straight into realms new to avoid becoming stale. So of course, we got another episode of wheel spinning, a few deaths of low to mid-level importance and one un-death. Anyway, let’s discuss what (if anything) actually happened:
We open on Bram and some flashback action that might have a purpose but that’s not clear yet, but at least we get to meet Max Von Sydow’s Three Eyed Raven, Castle Black and Edd returns with the wildlings and fight a couple of dickhead nights watch and then arrest them and go to burn Jon Snow’s body, don’t tease me just do it before someone stupidly brings him back to life, A drunk guy talks about flashing Cersei so Mountain murders him in a comic highlight of the series thus far, Cersei isn’t allowed into her daughter’s crypt possibly because Jamie’s there and we know what happens when’s in crypts with her, King Tommen says it’s actually because he thinks his had his brother killed, but really he’s guilty because he’s been an ineffectual king, High Sparrow turns up and Jamie threatens him in a scene in which nothing happens After just heard Tommen talking about what he wanted to say to his mother, we get a redundant scene where he then tells her that, Tyrion has a pair of scenes where nothing particularly happens, he chats about what happened and then doesn’t feed the dragons, Arya continues to learn to hone her heightened other senses when Stick- I mean Ja’qen Haegar turns up to kick her training up and give her a roof, finally something plot relevant happens as Ramsay Bolton kills his father, his stepmother and his baby brother, Sansa and Brienne are used to reinforce this episode’s theme, how far away from home most of the characters are, Theon Greyjoy leaves to go home, cut to his home, Balon Greyjoy is wandering around drunk and obnoxious and insulting his daughter, luckily he steps onto the rickety rope bridge of inveitable demise and his mysterious brother murders him, with no reason to Asha suspects it’s murder despite no evidence and Greyjoy being drunk on a rickety bridge, still Kingsmoot has been declared so that’s fun, and from one burning leech prediction to another, Melissandre is back, pretending to be not really fucking old and guess what? Jon Snow’s not dead anymore. Oh boy, what a time to not be dead.
I can’t really say I enjoyed this week’s episode as for the largest part it was just discussion, not even discussion that moved anything just reaffirming where we are in comparison to where we started. If it weren’t for the Boltons and the Greyjoys, this would have been an episode without any importance. Plus, yes I know it happens in the books, but by the resurrection of Jesus Snow it actually moves backwards. I mean, why have the big cliffhanger of your season be the death of a ‘beloved’ character only to resurrect him two episodes later? Death has already started to feel meaninglessly common in Westeros without us deciding to just reverse big decisions like this. This is an episode that doesn’t so much take steps either forward or back as much as jump on the spot for a bit of attention and then do a backflip at the end of the episode to amuse itself.
It’s not without its bright sparks, certain scenes if a hint irrelevant are well observed with the relationships between Sansa & Brienne and Cersei & Tommen coming off particularly sweet in their dynamics. As de-sensitised as I am to murder in Westeros, Ramsay going half-Oedipus on Roose was a shocking moment and the portrayal of his dog-based murder of his other ‘family’ was far more chilling for its lack of seeing the actual event, it is a story that perfectly used build-up and suggestion to further a story instead of just floundering. I have no idea what was actually ‘happening’ during Balon’s death but I am interested to see more of his brother and frankly, it’s just nice to see more things happening outside the standard locations.
I think the real danger of this episode is how many characters I realised I don’t care about. We had an entire season and an episode without Bran and his stuff and I didn’t actually notice a lack of him, we’ve had no Rickon, no Hodor, no Littlefinger, no Gendry or Freys since Season three, no Dany this week nor Jorah nor Dario Naharis and thankfully no Martells. In fact pretty much the only major players who I noticed weren’t present were the Tyrells and by god do we need more Diana Rigg in this series, as good as Jonathan Pryce has been as High Sparrow, he’s never felt more relevant than his one scene with Rigg. Yet that said, this season so far has done a fantastic job of creating oddly sympathetic characters out of Cersei and Melissandre purely by taking previously quite aloof figures and adding a much needed element of real vulnerability and humanity (we’ve seen it from Cersei but not to this degree). It’s clear that we are leading to a vengeful collision between Cersei and the sparrows but I am still waiting for Jamie’s downfall, can we have Cersei just get all her revenge in one season? This all said, I’ve never liked The Mountain more than in this episode and I can not wait for his hopeful collision with an actual giant.
Two episodes in and I’m still waiting for this series to take a great leap forward. I appreciate they have to take time to do set-up but it doesn’t excuse how overwhelmingly dull large swathes of this episode. It’s odd to say this but the episode lowlight goes to Tyrion and Varys in this one, a pair of characters who I previously thought you could leave in a room to just insult each other and it would be compelling enough on its own, this episode proved that wrong. I’ve not even come close to giving up on the show yet but it’s going to have to do something interesting pretty soon if it wants to keep me coming back for Season Seven. I will also reiterate my point from last week – who actually wanted Jon Snow back? Apart from Ygritte but oh yeah, she’s dead as well.
Plus Note: screw winter, Kingsmoot is coming.
SILICON VALLEY AND VEEP UPDATE:
This week Jared ties into GoT’s themes by letting us know his trick ‘I simply imagine my skeleton is me and my body is my house. That way I’m always home’. Also we got the pre-credits return of Andy Daly’s superbly cheery doctor and this year’s best horse-fucking scene.
Veep continued its hot streak introducing Arrested Development’s Gene Parmesan (Martin Mull) and Mad Men’s Roger Sterling as political expert Bob ‘The Eagle’ Bradley and financial expert Charles Baird respectively. Lots of hijinks and inventive swearing followed with Sam Richardson’s chipper recount law expert continuing to be series MVP. Plus Slattery and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss hooked up creating the most beautiful couple over-fifty.